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Author Topic: The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games  (Read 4353 times)

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The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games
« on: March 08, 2008, 04:23:57 pm »
To be more specific. . .

The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games
A Schiffer Book for Collectors -- With Price Guide
by Bill Kurtz

I got this a couple of days ago.  When picking up one of these, the first thing I suggest is to disregard the whole "Encyclopedia" thing, because that's what it ain't.  What we have instead is a "coffee table" picture book: a visual catalog, mostly in color, of the highlights (and a few not-so-high lights) of classic coin-op video games, along with a concise, breezy overview of their history.

Very few entries have any significant information about the game:  When exactly was it released?  Who produced it?  Who licensed and manufactured it?  How many were made?  Most of them lack this info, and when bits of such info are provided,  a fair portion of the time they are wrong.

The photos also are prone to a few flubs.  The front cover shows one of my all-time favorite games, Star Castle, but they've chopped off the lower half so it looks like a bartop machine (and it's shown again on page 84 the same way).

On page 70 is Tailgunner with this caption:  "TAILGUNNER shows the line drawings used to represent the images in X-Y vector video games."  Inexplicably, the screen is shown inverted like a photographic negative, with black line drawings on a white screen.  The rest of the photo, showing the marquee, bezel and control panel, is poor -- but only the screen display is shown in negative.  How did that happen?

Another oddity is the inclusion of a suggested price range for each and every game.  I wouldn't trust that info at all, as I suspect they're simply numbers the author pulled out of his hat, but I suppose it might be useful to someone as a sort of ballpark figure.

The emphasis is strongly on the US market.  In fact, there's a short (only five pages) chapter near the end called "Video Games of the World", which is kind of an awkward addition.

So. . .  It's not an encyclopedia.  It's not comprehensive, it's not definitive or authoritative.  It's not a resource for hard-core historical information.  All that you can find more of, and more reliably, on the internet.  ( comes to mind)  What's good about this book then?

What's good, wonderful really, is browsing the photos.  They're arranged in chapters by era: 1972-1976, 1977-1979, 1980-1982, 1983-1985, 1986-present.  Even within chapters the games seem to roughly follow chronological order of their release, so you get an excellent overview of what you might have found in arcades at various times.  The internet has all that in-depth info, but this book is great for tying it all together and presenting the Big Picture.

I can't flip through this without seeing my old favorites and, even more, sighing wistfully at all the many classic games that I never got a chance to play back in the day.  This will definitely give you an urge to fire up MAME and explore some old titles you never tried before.  It would make a nice companion to your MAME cabinet.

It could also be a good research source for a cabinet designer.  You get to browse through all the varied shapes, sizes and control schemes here.  I was surprised to see some old Centuri cabinets that closely resemble the one I've been trying to design.  I felt like that somewhat validated my ideas.

So, to sum it all up. . .   The book has some shortcomings, but I love it anyhow.  As long as you understand what you're getting and what you aren't, I'd recommend it.

« Last Edit: March 08, 2008, 04:26:05 pm by Zobeid »


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Re: The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2008, 05:19:25 pm »
I would think that KLOV in conjunction with MAWS could generate an encyclopedia in a semi-automated way... set some filtering criteria for what to include and what to exclude (in other words, filter it by number of units sold or something like that). That would be a book I'd like to have!
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Re: The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2008, 11:40:38 am »
got it!..GREAT BOOK. a woman wrote that date her! :blah:
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